Often, in artist's bios, or from the mouths of artists themselves, I have heard something along the lines of "Art is a way that I can truly express how I feel inside." I have never identified with this statement. With writing, this rings true, but not with my art.
When I write, I am free. Words obey me like unquestioning soldiers, mounted on serifed clydesdales; I am their king, their general. Go forth, Words, I tell them. Go forth, and do not question, for once I am done speaking, the abstracts will have become clear, my orders are issued, articulate my plans to the letter.
I see things in the world, things that only the eye can behold, that only a human alive in this day and age can come across, take in, and process with the history of who I have become, and the dreams that pump blood through my veins. Sometimes, in those moments, I am told "You should draw that" or "you should paint that." Every time, I shake my head. Anything I would attempt would be a poor simulacrum of something that was painted more beautiful, and with so much more subtlety than I could ever, as a human being, hope to accomplish.
The world is beautiful, and fleeting, and the moments that stir my heart to the point of breaking are something so elusive that one does not catch them on a whim.
For me art is a magic trick, with all the world watching, and it's something that requires ME believing it will work, in order for it to work. When it works, it truly is magic, and when it doesn't, there is none, only the motions of something reminiscent of. To this, I find only half-hearted applause, and read the faces of people who hope that this isn't the last act, who hope that I've got something else up my sleeve, who hope the next thing I do suspends their reality, or sparks something inside of them that makes them believe or at least makes them want to believe. When this is achieved, I bring down the house, the limelight spills over me and washes away the grime and the hardship, the stress and lies, and all of the very bad things that I say in private. In turn, it makes ME want to believe. It makes me believe. It rejuvenates me, encourages me, and makes me hungry for more.
People look upon my works in progress, and nod, or speculate, or comment on how I "could call this finished, and leave it as it is." For me, it is not done. I am setting something up, checking all the hinges, the secret safety release switches. I am making sure no wires, no trapdoors, no part of the trick can be seen from the audience. When it is complete I emerge, soaking wet, chains clattered about my feet, arms spread out to their very fingertips, top hat blazing next to the feat I have just performed, my face an iron mask of composure upon delivery, waiting one million fractions of a hummingbird's heartbeat for that golden sound of applause.
And when I hear it, I am less like the painters of old, the painters who taught me and frowned and said "you've got a long way to go, boy." In that moment, I am Harry Houdini, and I bow and appreciate that someone was there witness my act.